Poisoned Angel - The Story Of Alma Rose

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Alyn Shipton looks at the life of Alma Rosť and investigates the justification for her character assassination. He speaks with those who played under her baton in Auschwitz-Birkenau, three remarkable survivors of the Nazi death camp. Alma Rosť was musical "royalty". Niece of Gustav Mahler, at the time director of the Vienna Opera, and the daughter of Arnold Rosť, concertmaster of the Opera Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic and leader of his own renowned string quartet. With the annexation of Austria, Alma's family fled the country. Alma mistakenly thought she was protected by her Czech passport gained through marriage. She was betrayed, arrested, and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Shortly after her arrival, in a grotesque replay of her past, she was asked to take over a poor, threadbare musical ensemble of women inmates which she did with uncompromising zeal, driving herself and her musicians to exhaustion. Gaining unprecedented stature and exploiting some of the most brutal camp functionaries' love of music, she saved her musicians from the gas chambers. Perhaps surprisingly in a camp which had already murdered over a million people, conspiracy theories abound on the cause of her death at Birkenau. Was she poisoned by the SS or even fellow prisoners?